Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice sides with 3 liberals — and may block election lawsuit

Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice sides with 3 liberals — and may block election lawsuit
Justice Brian Hagedorn, image via Screengrab.

In March, Wisconsin-based businessman and Republican donor Jeré Fabick filed a lawsuit against election officials in his state, taking the case directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And on April 9, Justice Brian Hagedorn — who was supported by Republicans in 2019 — sided with the Court's more liberal justices when he showed skepticism over letting the lawsuit move forward.

However, Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reporter Patrick Marley notes, "The lawsuit is in an early stage, and Hagedorn could wind up agreeing with the other conservatives on the merits of the case."

Marley points out that Fabick "sued election officials to try to prevent them from using ballot drop boxes and filling in the addresses of witnesses on absentee ballot envelopes if they were missing" and also "sought to limit who can return absentee ballots to clerks on behalf of voters."

Ordinarily, an election-related complaint in Fabick's state would begin with the Wisconsin Elections Commission. But under Wisconsin law, cases can be filed directly with the Wisconsin Supreme Court rather than with a lower court — and its up to the justices to decide whether they want to hear the case or demand that it first be filed with a circuit court.

Marley, however, observes that in Wisconsin, "Another law says any challenge to election matters must start with a complaint before the bipartisan Elections Commission. The losing side can appeal the Commission's decisions to court."

The more liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court justices who joined Hagedorn in his April 9 ruling on Fabick's lawsuit were Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, Justice Rebecca Dallet and Justice Jill Karofsky, while the dissenters were Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Rebecca Bradley and Justice Annette Ziegler.

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